The so-called "cap and trade" bill that narrowly passed the House last Friday has raised ire and consternation among many groups, particularly Republicans and those in agriculture.
Gov. Rick Perry wrote an emphatic letter several days ago that firmly stated Texas’ position: against.
In the letter, he argues that the American Clean Energy and Security Act would amount to the single largest tax increase in U.S. history and hurt the Texas economy.
It also cites major studies that highlight the immensity of the burden the bill would place on American taxpayers:
• The Electric Reliability Council of Texas found that wholesale power costs in Texas could rise between $10 billion and $20 billion, with monthly bills increasing by $17 to $27.
• The Comptroller of Public Accounts estimates Texas could lose between 135,000 and 277,000 jobs by 2012 with the average Texas household annually paying $1,136 more for household goods and services, amounting to a $6.9 billion burden on Texas families.
• The National Black Chamber of Commerce found retail electricity rates to rise 7.3 percent in 2015 to 45 percent by 2050. They found transportation fuel costs to rise by 12 cents per gallon in 2015 and 59 cents per gallon in 2050.
The bill essentially artificially creates a market where it costs businesses more to continue to work on fossil fuel projects by increasing taxes on emissions and energy, forcing them, at least theoretically, to switch their focus to clean energy.
“Agriculture could benefit from a national focus on alternative energy sources. Farmers and ranchers could and actually have been paid for storing Green House Gases (GHG). But the potential is there for a significant amount of harm.
Environmental gains must be achieved. Nobody argues against that. But they must be gained in a way that doesn’t cripple our ability to produce food and fiber, nor hamstring the greatest economic engine of the world,” said Steve Pringle, legislative director for the Texas Farm Bureau in a recent article.
On the other hand, many Democrats are arguing, if we don’t severely tax everyone on carbon emissions, residents of Nebraska could soon be drowning in rising tides.
The bill barely passed the House, meaning that despite rising opposition, the Senate could likely tweak the bill enough for passage.
Holly LaFon has written and worked for various local publications including D Magaziner and Examiner.